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How long can you keep wild game in the freezer?

Long standing argument, want a resolution

dave.smith
post 3.Jun.2013, 11:57 AM
Post #1
Joined: 12.Jan.2007

My wife and I have had this debate since just after we were samboed and have been living at our current address.

We have an arrangement with regular hunters (along with other land owners whose land is hunted on by this group). They hunt on the land and give us free meat. Now, it's more often than not too much for us to eat in a reasonable time frame, and even too much to give to friends and family.

The meat ranges from moose to wild boar.

I say it can be kept for more than a year, and several sites bear this our, but my wife has always insisted that it should be kept for a year maximum.

Unfortunately, the answers online vary wildly, some say 2 years, 3 years, 6 months, depending on freezer burn, and how the meat is wrapped. Cling film and newspaper (some say) can keep the meat good for up to 2 years, and glad wrap (or similar) for up to a year. Then some people say with wax paper, 3 years. The confusing part is, all of these methos have different time frames depending on who answers the question.

My wife is convinced that the answers should be Sweden-specific, too, or she won't trust them.

Has anyone had any experience with this?

Skogsbo?
DaveN?
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skogsbo
post 3.Jun.2013, 12:11 PM
Post #2
Joined: 20.Sep.2011

I don't know. But I have had stuff that's been in way over a year. Frozen fresh, fairly quickly, no power cuts etc. so no partial thawing. Deep frozen well into double figures below, 3 years? (random guess), there is no reason not too. I have lamb from 19 or 20months ago, which I will have no issue with using in a curry in the next week or two.

Freeze dried produce keeps for a very long time, so why not permanently frozen? It's effectively in a time lock as far a decaying cells are concerned, look at the woolly mammoths or frozen cavemen that have been pulled out of glacial ice, they are very intact.

Proper kitchen / catering freezers are better, because they are a little colder and have a fast freeze function(much faster than household equiv). But I know of no reason to just throw edible meat away after 1 year.

QUOTE (dave.smith @ 3.Jun.2013, 11:57 AM) *
My wife is convinced that the answers should be Sweden-specific, too, or she won't trust them.

she doesn't have to eat it though, so you still can.
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dave.smith
post 3.Jun.2013, 12:30 PM
Post #3
Joined: 12.Jan.2007

Thanks skogsbo,

That's pretty much as I suspected. Unfortunately it seems to be a bit contentious, and noone can really agree on exact time frames. One thing they agree on, though, is that freezer burn is likely to happen if the freezer is opened too often. We open it maximum once per day, so I don't this really applies to our situation.
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skogsbo
post 3.Jun.2013, 12:41 PM
Post #4
Joined: 20.Sep.2011

Frozen food, just doesn't ever go bad in the freezer, bacteria can't grow. But it deteriorates in quality, the longer the cells are frozen. Hence the different guidelines for different foods, but it has nothing to do with germs and bugs, simply the texture and taste will be less good, after a longer period of time.

The lesson is to eat the best cuts first; then curry, stew and casserole the rest later.
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mångk
post 3.Jun.2013, 12:43 PM
Post #5
Joined: 27.Jul.2008

Is your freezer always well under -20c? If not then the time frame is significantly reduced.

Is the produce vacuum sealed in freezer safe plastic? If not time frame reduced.

How do you intend to cook the meats? If you intend to cook it rare to medium well done, time frame reduced.

If the freezer is a domestic freezer then the time frame is significantly reduced again.

Wild game, 'home butchered', not vacuum packaged, in a domestic freezer and cooked as it should be - probably has a freezer life of 3 months.

So to save arguments - the sambo is right! wink.gif
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mångk
post 3.Jun.2013, 12:50 PM
Post #6
Joined: 27.Jul.2008

QUOTE (skogsbo @ 3.Jun.2013, 01:41 PM) *
Frozen food, just doesn't ever go bad in the freezer, bacteria can't grow.

That is temperature dependent!

Typical bacteria that spoil meat become totally dormant under -20c. Above that and dependent on availability of oxygen (for some) the food can still become rotten in the freezer. It just takes more time!

QUOTE (skogsbo @ 3.Jun.2013, 01:41 PM) *
then curry, stew and casserole the rest later.

That is the key! How the food is prepared after!

Curry, stewing and those long cooked processes were traditionally used to eat meats that would otherwise make one ill! smile.gif
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skogsbo
post 3.Jun.2013, 12:55 PM
Post #7
Joined: 20.Sep.2011

QUOTE (mångk @ 3.Jun.2013, 12:43 PM) *
Is your freezer always well under -20c? If not then the time frame is significantly reduced.Is the produce vacuum sealed in freezer safe plastic? If not time frame reduced.How ... (show full quote)

evidence?

-18c is considered the standard bench mark for a functioning freezer. Vacuum sealed, will help reduce a bit of ice crystal glazing, but a plastic bag, prevents any additional moisture ingress. So significantly reduced? Doubt it. Once frozen, additional moisture will only add a coating to the product, it can't enter or modify a frozen cell.

Vacuum packed is marginally better than well wrapped, if worried, you can suck the air out with a straw before adding the final twist in a plastic bag, but don't get drawn into the heavy marketing and hype of home packaging kits.

A domestic freezer, running well, with a temp gauge so you can check, no power cuts, won't make a huge difference.

Home butchered - well hung etc. probably twice or three times as fresh and will freeze better than mass produce stuff. again, ignore the hype of food producers and neurotic bleach hugging young mums or celebrity chefs, what did people do 50+years ago, before Findus were packaging horses for us?

I'd love to see your evidence? I can only base mine on home knowledge for 20-30 years experience, right now we have 3 full freezers; with elk, boar, pike and pork being the main meat constituents. Number of days ill after eating any of it - Nil, number of tasty meals - countless. smile.gif
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dave.smith
post 3.Jun.2013, 12:57 PM
Post #8
Joined: 12.Jan.2007

Interesting - didn't know that.

Well, she has been living in the Swedish sticks a lot longer than I have, I guess you can't win em all.
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skogsbo
post 3.Jun.2013, 01:01 PM
Post #9
Joined: 20.Sep.2011

QUOTE (mångk @ 3.Jun.2013, 12:50 PM) *
That is temperature dependent!Typical bacteria that spoil meat become totally dormant under -20c. Above that and dependent on availability of oxygen (for some) the food ca ... (show full quote)

Nope, -15c is considered a safety benchmark, hence why all freezers are meant to operate below -18c. 99.9% of bacteria can't even operate at -15c. No food can rot at or below a permanent freeze of -18, probably 15c, but it allows from thermostat errors.

QUOTE (mångk @ 3.Jun.2013, 12:50 PM) *
Curry, stewing and those long cooked processes were traditionally used to eat meats that would otherwise make one ill! smile.gif

nope, these methods don't have magically germ killing properties, they are generally used for the naff cuts of meat, that need longer to breakdown the fat and sinew in them, to make that easier to eat. They are not used to kill germs that have developed in a freezer.

Not sure on where you are getting your info from, but it's the first I've heard of any of it. Sounds more paranoid, than factual, but I'll wait for some credible links.
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mångk
post 3.Jun.2013, 01:12 PM
Post #10
Joined: 27.Jul.2008

There is a whole heap of scientific documents that relate to the functioning of bacteria and the viability of the bacteria after freezing.

Here is one for starters: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/P...r00438-0021.pdf
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mångk
post 3.Jun.2013, 01:16 PM
Post #11
Joined: 27.Jul.2008

QUOTE (skogsbo @ 3.Jun.2013, 02:01 PM) *
nope, these methods don't have magically germ killing properties, they are generally used for the naff cuts of meat, that need longer to breakdown the fat and sinew in the ... (show full quote)

Not actually so. A lot of the traditional methods of cooking were developed for the purpose of being able to eat meats that had spoiled. Many cultures (including today) will still eat what we might describe as rotten meat (even if it is green in colour and stinks) by cooking at 100+c for hours on end. It has the benefit of not only killing bacteria but making the meat easier to eat.
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dave.smith
post 3.Jun.2013, 01:18 PM
Post #12
Joined: 12.Jan.2007

It's been a long running debate between us, but she couldn't explain why game shouldn't be frozen for longer than 6 months. I was totally perplexed and exasperated. I mean, frozen is frozen, right? We have kept supermarket meat in the freezer for longer than a year, so why not game? (It's a big freezer).
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mångk
post 3.Jun.2013, 01:44 PM
Post #13
Joined: 27.Jul.2008

It has been theorised for a long, long time that game meats are a natural reservoir of toxin producing bacteria that are harmful to people.

But see: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23384892
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skogsbo
post 3.Jun.2013, 01:44 PM
Post #14
Joined: 20.Sep.2011

QUOTE (mångk @ 3.Jun.2013, 01:16 PM) *
Not actually so. A lot of the traditional methods of cooking were developed for the purpose of being able to eat meats that had spoiled. Many cultures (including today) will s ... (show full quote)

but stewing the rougher cuts of pig from last season has absolutely nothing to do with this. It might have more to do with masking the taste of rotten food and used in a place or era when freezers that could consistently hold -18 didn't or don't exist. Just like the variety of salting, curing and smoking techniques.

ps. What temp does your stew boil at? I bet it isn't over 100c ? wink.gif
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mångk
post 3.Jun.2013, 01:48 PM
Post #15
Joined: 27.Jul.2008

QUOTE (skogsbo @ 3.Jun.2013, 02:44 PM) *
ps. What temp does your stew boil at? I bet it isn't over 100c ? wink.gif

You got that right! tongue.gif

But I use fresh meats... unsure.gif
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